Christmas is the happiest time of the year right? For some, unfortunately not…
See, for most people, Christmas is a time to unwind and let your guard down. For those dating narcissists or caught in a toxic spiral, it’s a completely different story. Walking on eggshells around toxic people can ruin just about any event and turn Christmas into a day of dread.
If you have just started to date someone the signs of being a little high maintenance, insecure or needy could be more than little red flags.
Being in a relationship with a toxic person you understand their triggers and behaviours which can range from starting fights right before an event, negging, belittling, controlling or verbal abuse all of which can be just the tip of the iceberg.
Christmas can bring out the best or worse in people even singles and couples alike dealing with toxic family is often unavoidable and can put pressure on a relationship.
The difference between Annoying traits vs toxic tendencies
At the end of the day, we’re all human and everyone does something that annoys their partner so what makes someone toxic?
Whilst your partner may be irritating, toxicity is on a whole nother level. It can feel like your partner has an emotional scorecard and is constantly trying to equalise the playing field. Nothing is forgotten nor forgiven, just saved for a later date…
Another toxic tendency is projection, nothing is ever their fault and you will always have to deal with their emotional issues first hand. If they’re insecure, you can guarantee that they will make it your problem too.
Toxicity comes in many shapes and sizes so spotting it can be challenging. To make things as easy as possible we have laid out the most obvious warning signs for you…
7 clear warning signs of toxicity
They’re always looking to pick a fight
Whether it’s something silly like politics or football, they’re ready to ruffle some feathers. It doesn’t have to be as direct as calling you out; however, they will try to get a reaction through backhanded compliments and passive aggressive behaviour.
They complain indirectly
Rather than complaining directly and being blamed for ruining the vibe, they will complain to someone else but only when they know you can hear. This is their attempt to save face when in reality, everyone knows that they are the issue. This is just another way for them to poke some flames without taking the blame.
They never help or contribute
Always quick to complain about the roasties but never seen in the kitchen… You know the type. They spend the day with their feet up while everyone else rushes around to make the day special. Only a toxic person could watch their partner struggle and stress while they do nothing…
Snide comments and belittling behaviour
In a desperate attempt to feel superior, they must put everyone else down. Whether that’s through snide comments or dismissive behaviour, they make it very clear that you are not as important as them. They think everything revolves around them and they are quick to protect that view regardless of how it affects others.
They MUST be the centre of attention
They can be full of laughter and smiles but the second the attention is on someone else, it becomes everyone’s problem. Before you know it, they are starting full blown arguments just to remain relevant.
They are NEVER responsible for their feelings
It’s always someone else’s fault and they’re not afraid of letting them know. Rather than addressing their suppressed emotions they take the easy path and project onto everyone else. This one’s easy to spot as who really falls out with family over a yorkshire pudding?
They blackmail you with their attendance
Rather than being there for you, they manipulate you into doing things their way by threatening to not show up. If they have to hold your holiday ransom in order to get what they want then so be it…
Are you dating a Narcissist?
As well as the traits already mentioned, you might notice a few additional signs in your partner…
Manipulation and emotional blackmail is one of the biggest tell-tale signs so you might hear them say things like:
- “You are all I have, I really need you right now”
- “It’s okay for you, you have your family but I have nobody”
- “I feel so lonely right now I can see how people commit suicide”
Another key warning sign is hot and cold behaviour, are they nice to you but horrible to others? Are you constantly guessing what version of them you will get today? Do they spoil your fun by picking a fight right before an event?
Maybe this doesn’t apply to your partner but sounds scarily similar to a family member.
Unfortunately, that can still cause anxiety for lots of people worried about the future of their relationship…
Are you dreading your partner meeting your toxic family?
I get it, you’ve finally found prince charming and you don’t want to risk anything ruining it. That’s totally fair! Introducing a partner to your family is hard enough as it is without your annoying aunt in the mix…
But there’s being cautious and there’s being illogical. Ask yourself, Is it really that bad? Will your family genuinely make your partner run for the hills in fear?
Most of the time, no… But a toxic family can really do some damage so be sure to use the guide at the bottom to protect your relationship this christmas.
What if your partner’s family is the problem?
Whilst you might not have to worry about your family, how can you be sure that your partner’s family isn’t toxic?
Maybe you have heard horror stories about previous celebrations or heard about the infamous Grandad known for causing trouble…
Either way, it can be even harder to deal with because you’re stepping into the unknown.
The easiest way to protect your relationship is through honesty, don’t be afraid to voice your concerns to your partner, let them know how you are feeling and see if they can put your mind at rest.
If that doesn’t work then make sure you use the 6 key tips from the end of this blog to protect your energy and relationship.
Wondering whether to pack it all in?
This may surprise you but Christmas is one of the most popular times for break ups. So if your partner’s toxic behaviour has gone too far and you’re considering calling it quits, you’re not alone.
At some point you have to say enough is enough and put yourself first. Christmas shouldn’t even enter into the equation when considering something like this as at the end of the day, your mental health is worth more.
Maybe we can do a short list of what the consequences are of being around toxic people are” Here are some:
- You feel drained after being with them and sometimes even feel sick
- Your self-esteem declines
- It damages relationships with other people in your life
- You lose enjoyment in things you once loved
- You can become fearful of them
- You can develop mental health issues like anxiety and depression
Maybe you’re sitting on the fence and hoping to figure it all out, great! That doesn’t mean you should put up with the toxicity in the meantime though. If you decide to push through the difficult times then you need to know how to deal with their toxic behaviour…
The first step to dealing with toxicity at Christmas
As cliche as this sounds, it all starts with you. You need to understand that Christmas is your time too and you have no obligation to spend time with anyone if you don’t want to. Just because someone is a part of your life doesn’t mean they get to walk all over you, take some control back and enjoy Christmas the way YOU want to.
Easier said than done though, right?
To make things easy for you, I have compiled my greatest tips into a simple step by step guide so anyone can survive Christmas with their toxic family…
7 ways to deal with Toxicity at Christmas
Set a time limit and have an escape plan
Decide how much you can handle and let your family know in advance what time you will need to leave. That way you are not causing any drama but you also get to save your sanity.
Deflect difficult questions
Rather than rising to their comments, be the bigger person and become a master of redirecting the conversation to something neutral. Or get them to talk about themselves. To avoid arguments, you can answer their questions by saying “I’m not too sure about that, what do you think?” or “I haven’t read too much about that so I can’t say, what are your thoughts?”
Remember your right to stay silent! All jokes aside, keep in mind that you’re not obliged to answer any questions you don’t want to. Deflect or straight up ignore the question if you know it will cause problems. A strategy for this is saying “That’s a good question but I haven’t thought about that too much yet.” Or “I haven’t decided exactly how I feel about that, but I will think about it more at some stage.” You could also ask them to clarify their comment or question to give yourself more time to prepare an answer that will minimise conflict.
Ignore the drama
In the grand scheme of things, a day of drama is nothing compared to your whole year. Remember that the moment is fleeting and don’t let insignificant drama affect your energy. You can ignore something by physically moving away from the person or say something like “I don’t think now is a good time to talk about that but let’s chat soon.” Or “I’ve really got to get myself something to drink, let’s talk about that later.”
Become the observer
Taking a step back is extremely powerful. Rather than committing your energy to the drama, just observe it from the outside.
Create a support system
Find someone you feel comfortable with. This could be a person that’s aware of the toxic personality in the family. The two of you can spend time together sporadically to avoid the drama. Playing or chatting with children can give you a break from the intensity too.
Find the silver lining
Remember, it’s still Christmas, wine is still flowing and food is still cooking. As annoying as your family might be, focus on the positives and enjoy your day as much as possible. Remind yourself that it won’t last forever and maybe you can even have something special you’ve planned at the end of the day to reward yourself.
To wrap it all up…
Just because someone is in your close circle, doesn’t mean you have to put up with their toxic behaviour especially if it’s damaging your mental health. This is your life and you are in the driver’s seat. You deserve a happy Christmas as much as everyone else so make sure to put yourself first and enjoy some well earned relaxation for once.
Remember, Santa is always watching and toxic behaviour will never get them on the good list.
WISHING YOU LOVE, ALWAYS,
Louanne Ward x